Idaho (abbr.: ID or Id.), state of the United States of America, in the northwest, 216,432 km2, with 1.0 million inhabitants; capital: Boise. The name is probably derived from the Indian word e-da-how (= the sun rises).
Idaho is one of the most hilly states in the United States (average elevation: 1,500 m above sea level; highest point is Borah Peak, 3,857 m). Parallel chains of the Rocky Mountains stretch from the Canadian border southeast across two-thirds of the state. The south of the state belongs to the Intermontane Plateaus. The gorge (Hell’s Canyon) of the longest river, the Snake, on the border with Oregon, is 225 km long and is the deepest in the United States (walls up to 2400 m). Idaho has about 1750 lakes, including Pend Oreille (316 km2) and Bear Lake (313 km2, partly in Utah). The state has a continental climate, moderated by the influence of the Pacific Ocean.
Idaho is one of the least populated states in the United States (5 inhabitants per km2); 57% live in the cities. Approx. 53,000 inhabitants are of Spanish descent, including a large number of Basques in Boise, who have preserved many traditional customs. The largest cities are Boise and Pocatello. See top cities in Idaho.
Despite the natural aridity of large areas of the state, agriculture (intensive irrigation; potatoes, grains, sugar beets) and associated industry are important livelihoods. Also of great importance are forestry and timber industry (about 45% of the state’s area is forest) and tourism (untouched natural beauty, various National Parks and recreation centers). Also livestock, sheep and pig farms. The mining industry produces, among other things, silver, zinc, lead, phosphate, copper and antimony. Also livestock, sheep and pig farming.
The most famous attractions are Lake Coeur d’Alene, Hell’s Canyon, Shoshone Falls, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Lake Pend Oreille. Winter sports are also important, with Sun Valley in the Sawtooth Mountains (ski slopes) as the center. Finally, Idaho is known for the rodeos that are held in many places across the state.
The area was initially inhabited by the Shoshone Indians. The first whites to reach and explore it were Lewis and Clark in 1805, who, at the behest of President Thomas Jefferson, embarked on a journey across the continent. They were soon followed by fur traders and in the 1830s by the pioneers who moved to Oregon. In 1863, Idaho became a territory, in 1890 the 43rd state of the Union. The tribe of the Nez Percé Indians, led by its chief Joseph, for a long time withstood a superior force of American troops in this mountainous region.